How to avoid Account Suspension on Twitter. Playing within the rules.

I’ve recently been at the wrong end of a blocked Twitter account and it really wasn’t the best of experiences. Not only did it take three visits to Twitter’s help centre (each visit taking two days for a response) but the consequence of having a blocked account for nearly a week cost me just under a thousand of my hard earned followers. It was a pain as I’m trying actively trying to build my following to attempt entice backers to help publish my latest novel.

Anyway, as a result I decided to undertake a bit of research into what it is that the Twitter bots are objecting to me doing.

My tactic to build followers is simple and consists of following the followers of authors in my genre. With any luck they’ll notice my follow and like what I’m doing enough to follow me back. The technique seems to work and I’m now up to eight thousand followers. All good but the downside being if I’m not careful, Twitter can mistake me for a spammer and as a result block my account. Bad times.

Twitter’s rules, limits and regulations regarding following and unfollowing can at times be a little vague and confusing. Obviously they are there to stop abuse of the platform and are probably vague to prevent reverse engineering by naughty programmers much cleverer than me.

Assuming you aren’t intentionally trying to abuse Twitter you need at least a working knowledge of these Twitter rules to prevent your account being suspended.

From what I’ve read there are three points that one needs to keep in mind – particularly if you use the platform on a daily basis.

  1. It is recommended that you follow less than one hundred people per day. This is particularly key if you have less than two thousand followers.
  2. Once your following rises above this level you should find you are able to follow more people without a problem. However please note that Twitter has a hard limit of one thousand follows in a twenty four hour period. This is where I think I’ve been caught out; If you follow more than a thousand the account will be blocked and additional follows in the same period rejected.
  3. Be aware there is allegedly no limit on unfollowing, but again I would stick to the thousand limits. Again I have been asked to verify the account on a couple of occasions when unfollowing on mass. It is also recommended that you do not unfollow and refollow the same people repeatedly. Twitter considers this as aggressive activity and will result in a ban.

If you stick to the rules your Twitter account shouldn’t face any account suspension issues. I suppose as a caveat remember that Twitter are entitled to change their rules and limits without notice or even publishing the changes. Good luck and I wish I’d known about these limits earlier!

I am still actively seeking pledges for my latest novel, ‘The Atlantis Deception’ which is on the road to being published by the crowdfunding publisher, Unbound. If you like Michael Crichton with a little Clive Cussler on the side, please check out the project at https://unbound.com/books/the-atlantis-deception/ and perhaps consider becoming a patron of the creative arts.

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I’ve Published my book – So what do I do now?

Although in the midst of a tricky crowdfunding sell on my latest novel, ‘The Atlantis Deception,’ I have started to think about the processes to come – the copyediting; the proof reading; the advertising – should I put my eggs in the google advertising basket, Facebook ads, amazon ads, or maybe all three? How should I use Goodreads to its full advantage – and what about twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn? Is my website good enough? Are my blogs frequent enough – Is my content even worth reading?

At this point, with my meltdown in full swing, I turned off the computer and crawled under my desk.

I needed to get back to the basics and focus on the why as oppose to the, ‘just do it because everyone else is doing it.’ Forgetting about the pre-publishing bit, I know I need to throw myself into aspects of post publication marketing even now and I need a plan of attack. Without a focus and simply an aimless approach I will achieve nothing and probably just give up, disheartened, like hundreds of authors before me, by the enormity of the task. Even with a plan it still feels like I’m trying to break through a wall with a toothpick.

So what is important? What should I (and therefore you) be trying to improve as I hurtle into the world of publishing? I’ve come up with five target areas I can influence:

  1. Cover Art
  2. Teaser paragraph
  3. Trailer
  4. Reviews
  5. Traffic

I’m linked to a publisher now and I still not certain how the cover art will be dealt with. That said I’ve still commissioned a local artist to generate some advertising posters to support the launch of the novel when it happens. Imagery is so important in this field and given we are artists ourselves, often overlooked. It is ironic that the phrase, ‘never judge a book by its cover,’ couldn’t be more wrong in the literary world – for the first time author (assuming the title pricks the interest of a reader) this is absolutely what our work will be judged on. If the cover does its job, the reader will then move onto the teaser paragraph. Test your cover image before revealing it to the world – if you are online only, ensure it is striking enough to work as an Amazon thumbnail. If you wouldn’t click on it yourself, go back to the drawing board.

I’ve included a couple of images John has created for me. If you like his style and would like to work with him, please drop me a line.

The teaser paragraph is your clincher, you’ve reeled in your potential reader with an interesting title and excellent art work – now you need to wow him and her with your ability to weave an interesting story. Similar to the cover art, you need to do the groundwork. Find out what works and what really doesn’t. Check out the number of hits you’re getting and dump accordingly. Once you hit on the winning formula your views to buys ratio should start to fly!

Item number three on the list is the book trailer. This is a new(ish) method of advertising to me and something I’ve had to create as part of my Unbound crowdfunding project. With little budget I’ve found this tough to engage with and although my trailer (uploaded to YouTube) is okay, an investment of (at most) two or three hundred pounds would make it amazing. Once published this is where my initial budget will be heading. There are so many thousands of books out there now and I believe this is a nailed on game changer and something that will help me stand out from the crowd. In case you are already at the point of requiring a book trailer, these are a selection of developers I have come across so far.

(under 1minute book trailer, around $250).

http://www.3dtree.net/ http://www.vimeo.com/user4056030 (usman-rafi@hotmail.com) http://ligastudio.webs.com/ http://www.mindofminnich.com http://www.pixelgenio.com/ http://pcledera.webs.com/ http://www.thedesigncrew.biz/

Lowest Price (Less than $150): http://redlotusproductions.wordpress

Reviews: This is where social media starts to come into play. Reviews are key (if you believe the hype, Google analytics and Amazon itself) to generating the next of my goals, traffic. Optimising your cover and teaser paragraph will not mean anything without traffic. First and foremost, try and make everyone you know to both buy your book and leave some kind of review. They should be truthful to some extent – we’ve all seen those self-published books with twenty or so five star reviews and they stand out like a sore thumb. That said they will at least move you along the path. It’s then down to begging and pleading (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn); giving away free copies, doing favours and swapping reviews with other authors in the same boat. With any luck over time enough reviews (hopefully good) will land on your plate for Google and Amazon to take notice. Then you’re away!

Once you set out your plan of action and allocate your budget appropriately, the publishing game suddenly doesn’t seem quite so complex. Maybe it’s even a game we can win. Just remember everything you do should be geared towards one thing – persuading readers to click your BUY IT NOW button!

I am still actively seeking pledges for my latest novel, ‘The Atlantis Deception’ which is on the road to being published by the crowdfunding publisher, Unbound. If you like Michael Crichton with a little Clive Cussler on the side, please check out the project at https://unbound.com/books/the-atlantis-deception/ and perhaps consider becoming a patron of the creative arts.

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Where is my Muse? – Motivation for bloggers and writers

Another ridiculously hot day here in the south of England, once again hitting 30°C – bordering on assault for my pasty Scottish skin!

It’s tough to concentrate and lethargy has definitely set in. It got me thinking about how I manage to find the motivation to actually pick up a pen or tap away on the keyboard. I’ve come up with a few and it would be interesting to hear what others might add to this far from finite list.

  1. Setting aside a specific and recurrent period of time: Sounds obvious but it works for me. If I know my witching hours are between 8 and 10, I tend not to procrastinate so much and get down to the serious job of creating content. If I sit down ad hoc, I tend to play about on Twitter, Facebook or the like and eventually the time drips away with little to show for my efforts.
  2. The right time: This sort of relates to the above and is personal to the individual. The muse in my head seems to perform better late at night so my creative time has adjusted accordingly. If there’s a time when you’re more alert, make this your daily writing time.
  3. A comfortable space: Again this is personal but I always feel I need a clean and comfortable environment to work in. If my space isn’t just right I go a little bit OCD and clean up everything in the vicinity. I don’t want anything on show past the bare minimum! I suppose the opposite may be true of others and clutter may invoke your muse but the space should and will inevitably match your personality and fit the creative you.
  4. A blank canvas. Switch off your phone. E-mail, smart phones, tablets, and any other electronics-are the enemies of writing. They are the Devil when it comes to distraction and eating away precious writing time. Every notification will pull you into a zone incompatible with creativity. I’m not suggesting doing this if you’re a doctor on call but other than that turn then off – maybe even lock them away! Any messages will still be there when your period of creativity is over.
  5. Ritual: I’m not saying you should be chalking a pentagon into your carpet and chanting at its centre – well unless that floats your boat – but a ritual of sorts might help get you in the grove. I have a set of Star Wars models that must always be arranged in a certain order before I start, but I guess a hat or lucky pants might also do the trick!
  6. A daily quota of words: Back to a familiar one – simply setting a target. I may set aside two hours a day but the word count is the motivation within that period. 1000 words tends to be my minimum and once achieved I can relax. Sometimes I use all my dedicated time to its full and in other instances I finish early but either way having a target quota is essential. If nothing else it is proof you have achieved a tangible result for your efforts that day.
  7. Record and set your targets: I keep an A4 calendar on my desk with daily targets and actual results registered. It gives me an enormous sense of well-being (to quote Blur). It’s nice to see progression and gives you an idea of time frames (first draft will be complete in June – for example).

So that’s me. I’m sure there are many more examples out there and please feel free to share. It would be nice to engage with one or two of you out there in the internet ether.

I hope this has been of benefit and I would appreciate it if you could like or share the post.

I am still actively seeking pledges for my latest novel, ‘The Atlantis Deception’ which is on the road to being published by the crowdfunding publisher, Unbound. If you like Michael Crichton with a little Clive Cussler on the side, please check out the project at https://unbound.com/books/the-atlantis-deception/ and perhaps consider becoming a patron of the creative arts.